Great blue heron with a fish
The great blue heron in this photo has just made a strike on a fish called a drum. The great blue heron is widespread and common in most of North America. It is one of the world's tallest shore birds.
Looking gangly and clumsy while walking, it is a most graceful bird while in flight. It can glide long distances often low over water without making a wing beat. This photo attests to this bird's great eyesight, for it has caught a fish in muddy waters.
After this photo was taken, the blue heron walked its catch to the muddy shore, where it intended to swallow the drum. Before it could do so, a bald eagle flew in challenging the heron for the fish. The heron dropped the fish in the mud, where neither bird retrieved it. The drum, apparently mortally wounded, did not flop.
I suspect that a lucky raccoon may have reaped the benefit of a fish dinner after sunset.
I took this photo on the refuge at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.
Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.